shelf

noun
\ˈshelf \
plural shelves\ ˈshelvz \

Definition of shelf 

1a : a thin flat usually long and narrow piece of material (such as wood) fastened horizontally (as on a wall) at a distance from the floor to hold objects

b : one of several similar pieces in a closet, bookcase, or similar structure

c : the contents of a shelf the author of a shelf of best sellers

2 : something resembling a shelf in form or position: such as

a : a sandbank or ledge of rocks usually partially submerged

b : a flat projecting layer of rock

c : the submerged gradually sloping border of a continent or island : continental shelf

off the shelf

: available from stock : not made to order off the shelf equipment

on the shelf

: in a state of inactivity or uselessness

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Other Words from shelf

shelfful \ ˈshelf-​ˌfu̇l \ noun
shelflike \ ˈshelf-​ˌlīk \ adjective

Examples of shelf in a Sentence

Put the vase on the shelf. the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet Will you get that book down off the shelf? We don't have much shelf space.
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Recent Examples on the Web

They were found 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, and divers and other international rescuers plotted the complex mission to rescue the team before more rain came. Fox News, "Mission accomplished and boys healthy, rescuers head home," 13 July 2018 Whiskey aficionados take note: Two hundred varieties line the shelves, with ladders for the barkeeps at the ready. Howard Cole, latimes.com, "Take me out to a Quakes game on a weekend escape to Rancho Cucamonga," 12 July 2018 They were found by a pair of British divers nearly 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, smiling with relief but visibly skinny. Anchorage Daily News, "With V-for-Victory sign, rescued Thai boys celebrate freedom," 12 July 2018 They were found by a pair of British divers 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, smiling with relief but visibly skinny. Kaweewit Kaewjinda, BostonGlobe.com, "Kids rescued in Thailand lost weight, drank dripping water in cave," 11 July 2018 They were found by a pair of British divers 10 days later, huddled on a small, dry shelf just above the water, smiling with relief but visibly skinny. Kaweewit Kaewjinda, chicagotribune.com, "Hospital: Kids rescued from flooded cave in Thailand lost weight, drank dripping water," 11 July 2018 New products fly off shelves (both digital ones and at her pop-up stores) in record time. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kylie Jenner Just Teased a Kylie Cosmetics Vending Machine," 11 July 2018 Next to the shelves, a small display showed the range of items up for bid. Lauren Caruba, San Antonio Express-News, "Lee High School’s mountain of memories to be auctioned," 11 July 2018 After 10 days on the shelf, Avila was activated and placed into the team’s starting lineup for Saturday’s game against the San Diego Padres. Richard Morin, azcentral, "Diamondbacks activate struggling catcher Alex Avila from disabled list," 7 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shelf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shelf

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for shelf

Middle English, probably from Old English scylfe; akin to Old Norse hlīthskjalf Odin's seat

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Statistics for shelf

Last Updated

2 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shelf

The first known use of shelf was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for shelf

shelf

noun

English Language Learners Definition of shelf

: a flat board which is attached to a wall, frame, etc., and on which objects can be placed

geology : a flat area of rock, sand, etc., especially underwater

shelf

noun
\ˈshelf \
plural shelves\ ˈshelvz \

Kids Definition of shelf

1 : a flat piece (as of wood or metal) set above a floor (as on a wall or in a bookcase) to hold things

2 : a flat area (as of rock)

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Comments on shelf

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